Environment

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My generation of leaders, both in the United States and throughout the world, will be judged by what we do to curb climate change. It is the single biggest long-term issue our world faces, and we are very quickly losing our opportunity to prevent the disastrous results that will come from inaction.

For a time, Democrats were doing a great job of advancing climate change legislation. But too many Democrats have backed off of these proposals out of the fear that their campaigns will be attacked with millions of dollars by the oil and coal lobbies, along with the Koch brothers.

If we as Democrats really believe in our progressive values, we have to be willing to put our individual careers on the line for something bigger than ourselves. Climate change requires that level commitment if we’re going to preserve our planet for future generations.

In the House, I will support cap and trade legislation as well as a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I will also support expanded investments in clean and renewable technology, such as solar and wind power.

I know some in the business community will criticize this approach. But until we make it cheaper for businesses to reduce their carbon emissions than continue to pollute the environment, we won’t be able to make the dramatic changes needed. For this reason, I am against building the Keystone XL pipeline.

Expanding our use of renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions are critical, but we also have to commit to conserving our natural environments. I have fought hard for conservation efforts in Arizona, and that’s why I have an A rating from both the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters. My wife Kate is a former State President for the League of Conservation Voters, and we are both deeply dedicated to preserving the natural beauty we are all lucky enough to have in Arizona.

In Arizona, one of the biggest tests of our commitment to conservation is the proposed Rosemont Mine in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson. I understand the importance of mining in Arizona, and – where it makes sense – will be supportive of mining projects that bring jobs and sustainable economic development. But I have not yet seen a strong enough justification to build this mine, and the estimated environmental impact will be devastating.

photo credit: Eric Nyquist via photopin cc

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